By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — A small group of U.S. officials has crossed into North Korea for talks regarding a possible summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The U.S. State Department on May 27 issued a statement confirming that “a U.S. delegation is in ongoing talks with North Korean officials” in the border settlement of Panmunjom.
“We continue to prepare for a meeting between the president and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un,” the statement said.
According to media reports, former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Sung Kim was leading the delegation.
The talks came one day after Trump signaled that preparations for a June 12 summit with Kim in Singapore were going ahead. Days earlier the U.S. leader sent Kim a letter stating that he was canceling the proposed meeting.
Trump said at the White House on May 26 that the date “hasn’t changed” and that things were “moving along very nicely.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who met with Kim in a surprise summit earlier on May 26, said the North Korean leader had “agreed that the June 12 summit should be held successfully” and “again made clear his commitment to a complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
A statement from North Korea’s state news agency KCNA said Kim expressed “his fixed will” that the meeting with Trump should go ahead.
Moon had told reporters on May 26 that Washington and Pyongyang were planning to hold “practical talks” soon on a possible summit.
“[Kim] also expressed his intention to put an end to the history of war and confrontation through the success of the North-U.S. summit and to cooperate for peace and prosperity,” Moon added.
Trump had called off the summit in a letter to Kim on May 24, citing North Korea’s threat the day before to cancel the summit in a statement condemning U.S. Vice President Mike Pence as a “political dummy.”
“Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it would be inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting,” Trump wrote in his letter to Kim.
But he left the door open to a new meeting, saying in the letter to Kim: “If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write.”
After their surprise summit at the Panmunjom border village on May 26, the two Korean leaders said they had agreed to meet “frequently” and suggested another face-to-face encounter was likely on June 1.
“They shared the opinion that they would meet frequently in the future to make dialogue brisk and pool wisdom and efforts, expressing their stand to make joint efforts for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,”KCNA reported.
It was their second summit in the past two months. After the meeting, KCNA said that another “high-level” meeting would be held on June 1, but it did not specifically say that the two Korean leaders would participate.
KCNA suggested following the summit that Kim was still interested in meeting with the U.S. president.
“Kim Jong Un thanked Moon Jae-in for the considerable effort made by him for the DPRK-U.S. summit scheduled for June 12, and expressed his fixed will on the historic DPRK-U.S. summit talks,” the report said, using the abbreviation for North Korea.
South Korea’s presidential spokesman responded that “we are cautiously optimistic that hope is still alive for U.S.-North Korea dialogue.”